Creating a Public Nuisance in California

Creating a Public Nuisance in California

California residents are expected to behave a certain way. One of the big expectations is that they will be respectful of the general public. Individuals who behave in a way that’s considered blatantly disrespectful can be charged with creating a public nuisance.

There are several different things you could do that would cause people to consider you a public nuisance. Many of them relate to being excessively noisy at times when the average person expects quiet.

Examples of behavior that could get you charged with creating a public nuisance in California include:

• Mowing your lawn in the middle of the night
• Allowing your dog to bark all day and a night
• Failing to properly maintain your home so that it’s relatively neat and safe
• Throwing parties that are loud and last long into the night
• Routinely engaging in loud arguments
• Behaving obscenely to passing traffic
• Etc.

 
Creating a Nuisance is addressed in Penal Code 372 PC. It clearly states that, “Every person who maintains or commits any public nuisance, the punishment for which is not otherwise prescribed, or who willfully omits to perform any legal duty relating to the removal of a public nuisance, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

People don’t get randomly charged with creating a public nuisance in California. There is a process that’s followed. In most cases, the neighbors will complain to the police who respond to the call. Unless there is something dangerous or obviously illegal taking place, the police will usually simply warn the person who is being a nuisance that there have been complaints and that they need to change their behavior.

If things don’t change, the next step usually involves a written warning. This is especially common in situations where trash, poor maintenance, or simply neglect has created problems.

The early warnings from the police are important. If you don’t get one, you already have the grounds for a good defense if you are charged with creating a nuisance in California. The three main defenses used in these types of cases are:

• Lack of notice
• That this was a one-time occurrence
• Few people were impacted by your actions

 
If you ignore the warning signs and are charged with creating a nuisance, you face misdemeanor charges. If convicted, the maximum sentence is up to 6 months in a county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.